Is India Ready for 5G?

"India is not lagging behind for its 5G ambition. With the spectrum auction going to happen, most probably next year, India has all the right notes"

5G is the most trending word in recent times in India. It has a promise for the future, so the buzz makes sense. 5G, as the world knows, is the 5th generation technology for broadband cellular network. It is estimated that the peak data speed for 5G would be 20 Gbps, which is extreme compared to current standards. According to the latest telecom reports, by 2026, at least more than half of the global mobile traffic will have a 5G network. It is also said that 5G will increase the adoption rate of IoT and AI devices across domains due to high bandwidth availability. Be it drones, smart cars, to even home appliances, 5G will make AI a part of our daily lives. It is estimated that the 5G market will almost reach $665 billion by 2028.

India is not lagging behind for its 5G ambition. With the spectrum auction going to happen, most probably next year, India has all the right notes. However, is it going to change India's future? The answer is yes as well as no. Despite 5G capabilities and features, it needs a robust ecosystem that comprises IoT devices, policy guidelines, customer awareness, and infrastructure access. After the growth of 2G in India, the other upgrades, mainly 3G and 4G, has not given much improvement in the remote areas thereby accentuating the digital divide. Even though India is confident that we will be able to exploit the capabilities of 5G, it does not have enough use cases to support this argument. We believe India needs to prepare for a well-tested platform for 5G players to connect and quickly work on the trials to prepare use case scenarios. The other important factor is the spectrum pricing; with struggling telecom companies still finding it tough to survive, it will be necessary for the government to keep the spectrum price at a low, which will surely benefit the companies to invest in creating ecosystems for 5G and will reduce the financial burden on them. One more important factor, which will decide the future of 5G in India, is the local development of devices supporting 5G. Local development of devices will help reduce cost, improve consumer choice as well as improve employability. One primary requirement for 5G growth island,  for infrastructure (telecom towers etc.); even though the government of India has introduced the “Right of Way Process” online, it is yet to be implemented in all states. Without proper mechanism across all states, there will be regulatory hurdles for companies to acquire infrastructure development space. India's main objective is not to improve the video quality of the Over The Top (OTT) movies which urban consumer watch but to create 5G driven ecosystem, which will be equally accessible from anywhere in India including rural areas. Having mentioned all the challenges, it is still possible for India to propel a 5G growth story. However, it needs more preparation and a better ecosystem to be more inclusive for new players to join the parade. If these issues are taken into consideration eventually, India will write its own growth story of 5G, which the world will surely take note of.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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